At Westchester Health, your child’s nutrition is one of our top priorities and something we really pay attention to each time your child comes in to see us for an office visit. To help parents understand what developmental signs and benchmarks we’re looking for, we offer this highly informational blog by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group (excerpted below). Nutritional assessments are just one of the many ways we help parents raise healthy, happy kids. To learn about all of the services we offer, click here.
Whether we’re seeing your child for a routine visit, illness or injury, we make sure to check his/her overall health status.
If we feel your child is not getting adequate nutrition (underweight) or is eating more than necessary (overweight), we’ll discuss this with you and your child, and together, decide on the best course of action. This might include referring your child to our on-staff nutritionist, suggesting vitamin supplements, or discussing which foods he/she should be eating for a healthy diet.
How to know if your child is overweight or obese
Obesity is usually defined as being more than 20% above the ideal weight for your child’s particular height and age. If your child falls within this range, it’s important to find ways to help him/her achieve and maintain a healthy weight, now and in the years to come. To calculate your child’s BMI (Body Mass Index), use this chart from Kid’s Health.
Signs that your child might be underweight
Although a lot of attention is paid to overweight kids, at Westchester Health we also become concerned when a child is underweight. In general, this occurs when someone is in the bottom 5th percentile for weight compared to their height. Here are some things to look for:
- If your child’s weight percentile consistently decreases on growth charts at his/her annual well-child visit, this is cause for concern.
- If a younger child does not outgrow clothes after several months, bring him/her in to see us. For an older child, if clothes seem to hang too loosely on their body (i.e., your child routinely is not “filling out” his/her clothes), this is cause for concern.
- At bath time, or while swimming or at the beach, notice whether you can see your child’s ribs. Ribs that stick out or are easily visible are a sign that your child may be underweight and is not getting enough nutrition.
Although eating disorders are more common in girls, boys can experience them too. There are several types of eating disorders but they typically have to do with a preoccupation with body image and being thin. To learn more, please visit these pages and blogs on our WHP website:
- Eating disorders in children
- What You Should Know About Teenage Eating Disorders
- Does Your Child Have Bulimia?
Additional articles you might want to read:
- Promoting Healthy Weight
- Childhood Nutrition
- Food Additives: What Parents Should Know
- Avoiding Food Traps
- Cholesterol Levels in Children and Adolescents
- Choosing Healthy Snacks for Kids
- How to Get Your Child to Eat More Fruits & Veggies
- How to Please Fussy Eaters
- Making Sure Your Child is Eating Enough
- The 5 Food Groups: Sample Choices
Above all, our goal is to help your child get and stay healthy
If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, nutritional intake or any other aspect of his/her health, please come in and see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. We will examine your child, listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and together with you and your child, determine what steps would be best to achieve the optimal health for your child. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.